The Endgame - the book / Review by Robert Jasiek - discussion

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Robert Jasiek: My disclaimer has been: "Disclaimer: Robert Jasiek is a researcher in the endgame and other go theory, author of endgame books and other go books, and go teacher." Anonymous has changed this to "Robert Jasiek is an independent researcher in the endgame and other go theory, self-published author of two endgame books and other go books, and go teacher." on 2018-08-28. Both versions are correct on that day but the disclaimer is meant to be a statement by me as its writer and should not be substituted by somebody else's statement while giving the false impression that I would be the author of the changed version. The changes are subtle. Do they add or remove information? "independent researcher": Is it an advantage to be an independent researcher for this very reason or is it a disadvantage because of not doing research on particular topic due to a job-related order? In Western countries, even a researcher researching due to an order is supposed to have the freedom of research. "self-published": Is it an advantage to be independent because one can publish what one wants as the author and not only what a publisher agrees to, or is it a disadvantage because only 1 person instead of only 2 persons decide on the publication? Good books by others have been prevented because publishers would not want to publish them (maybe because the publishers feared commercial competition with their self-published books?). In a small market, such as English go books, self-publication can easily make sense because the percentage earned is ca. 3 to 20 times higher than from a third publisher while the printrun would never be that much larger. "two endgame books": On 2018-08-28, this is true. However, what does it tell? It also hides the information that I have been working on endgame books and endgame research for 2.5 years full-time now on 2019-01-28 and drafts of 5 further endgame books in work. Should the disclaimer be changed to, say, "seven endgame books" in ca. one year? Would Anonymous still consider this appropriate then? Maybe his intention was to express "two but, mind you, it is only two". If so, his change would soon become counter-productive. If his intention was greatest accuracy, fine, but then the disclaimer must also state the amount of work spent on my endgame research. In summary, the change of the disclaimer creates problems of authenticity and I do not see that the slightly increased accuracy would be advantageous within the disclaimer. At various other places, such accuracy has its place because elsewhere there can be space for all the details. However, a disclaimer is first of all just a short note by its author and is not a dictionary of details. If a disclaimer should be wrong, such can be discussed but discussion should involve its author instead of confronting him with changes he only discovers much later and that give the false impression of text originating from himself.

Herman: The content should be your choice, and should not be edited by third parties. If they feel the content is incorrect or misleading, they should make a comment. But the term "disclaimer" is not correct, I think. What you mean is "disclosure". Specifically, you are disclosing a potential conflict of interest. As such, it should contain only material which is relevant to the disclosure. In this case, your being a researcher or a teacher are not relevant to the conflict of interest, your being an author/publisher of go books is. I would suggest something to the effect of: "Disclosure: I have authored and published go books, including books on the endgame --Robert Jasiek". Writing the statement in the first person and signing it, rather than in the third person, makes it clear to the reader that this is your own disclosure, not one added by another person later, and makes it obvious (IMO) that others should not change it.

Robert Jasiek: This is not only about a possible commercial conflict but a broader topic.

  • Should only I add a disclosure (or whatever it is called) to reviews or should every reviewer do so? Or at least every reviewer who has, or can have in the future, some possible conflict of interest? E.g., there have been reviews of some of my books by other go book authors without disclosures.
  • Information about a reviewer, author of a carefully worked out opinion, author of a research text etc. often includes a short summary of achievements, evidence of expertise, time or effort on related work, and history of education, degrees or jobs.
  • The IMO most important purpose of disclosures is providing clues for credibility of the contents of the author's text because its readers often with (much) less knowledge on the topic want to better judge about correctness, accuracy and truth of statements in the text.
  • Regardless of any disclosure or possibly its absence, this is of central importance. Are the statements in the review correct? Is the reviewer's stated opinion reasonable in relation to them? How much scope of reasonable differing opinion is there for the readers of the rewiew?
  • Despite decades of existence, the reviewed book has received little opinion supported by careful reasoning before the review so everybody may have thought that the contents of the book must be more or less ok. The review creates a stark contrast by being mostly critical in its assessment. Has judgement of endgame books really been so difficult that only diligent students of the endgame can make a judgement close to facts about the contents? This has been my personal experience. Before I started serious endgame study in 2016, I had been very unsure in my judgements about endgame books. Only due to my study I have become confident in judging them. Of course, I understand why quite a few would at first be sceptical why a reviewer sees a necessity to be critical in his review as long as their knowledge on the endgame still restricts their own judgement. Everybody can study the topic and the book in comparison to other sources of information about the endgame to better evaluate statements of the review instead of focusing on meta-discussion about the reviewer.

Herman: Disclosure or "Full disclosure" as it is often called, is all about revealing conflicts of interest. It is about revealing information which should theoretically not be relevant to the review (i.e. ideally commercial competitors should provide honest reviews of each others works) but which, if kept hidden, might lead to accusations of dishonesty and bias. If the reader expects that the reviewer is a neutral party (with no commercial interest) and finds out later that this is not true, they may feel misled.

Other information about the author which might be relevant to the review, should be mentioned in the review or in the introduction. E.g. it is perfectly OK to write "I have researched this subject myself, and found the coverage in this chapter wanting" in the middle of your review, or "After researching the subject myself, I decided to review what others have written on the subject" in your introduction. Including such information is not called disclosure.

As to whether a reviewer's own expertise is relevant, that is up to the reader. If another reviewer writes that they found the contents enjoyable, enlightening and well-written, and that they feel that they got stronger by reading the book, then their lack of expertise in no way makes that contribution less valuable or less true. You do not have to be a teacher to recognize good teaching, after all, and correctness does not necessarily correlate with utility. The average player will get much more utility from this book than from reading On Numbers and Games, I'd think, even though it contains far more inaccuracies.

Robert Jasiek: All fine and well (especially that a review should be honest) except that you suggest a disclosure while I suggest an "About the reviewer" appendix because I think that a review itself should not have as much information about its author as an appendix can have. EDIT: If another reviewer asserts "well-written" but overlooks serious, many mistakes in the contents, maybe his intentions have been honest but he does not generate objective truth about the degree of correctness and scope of the contents. His review would be misleading about the quality of contents.

Herman: Actually, I suggested both. I think full disclosure of a potential conflict of interest is important, but I also support giving context about the author to the review. I think these two should not be conflated. A commercial conflict of interest does not lend extra weight to the review, while expertise does. As such, I think you should mention these separately. As to where you want to place them, that is up to you. Perhaps expertise is best mentioned before and during the review, while disclosure about a potential conflict of interest is best in a footnote. The first is relevant to the reader while reading, the second should not be but should also not be hidden.

Robert Jasiek: Both separately would be an overkill and I do not recall to have seen such ever. Everybody can infer a disclosure from an About the writer text.

Herman: What exactly are you arguing here? I'm just telling you facts. You can do with them what you want.

Robert Jasiek: My knowledge of English is not precise enough to judge whether disclosure is the most appropriate word for only describing a conflict of interest; currently I simply assume you are right about this linguistic point. What I am arguing about is not whether to call a disclosure a disclosure but whether a review, or a similar seriously written text, should be accompanied by more than one additional text block with special declaration, such as "Disclosure" or "About [insert name of the writer]". I do not recall to have seen such (two or more additional text blocks with special declarations) ever, whether in scientific texts, reviews, newspapers or journals. You say you are telling facts. Might be. But what facts? The fact of what is or is not a disclosure or the fact of some existence of two or more additional text blocks with special declarations for the one and only same person? Even if the latter is a fact (that you would have seen such), it is not regular practice because I do not recall to ever have seen such. Besides, for go media reviews, it is currently even not regular practice to add any disclosure or the like at all (providing a separate rank declaration is already the exception) - only I have recently been suggested to do so. Until every reviewer declares his own context, there is no point in suggesting that one particular reviewer should provide two declarations per text. If you want to establish facts of several declarations per text, first ensure that everybody provides at least one declaration per text (accompanying the text and not part of the text itself). I do not mind adding one declaration but I do not want to add two or more separate declarations per text (or the same declaration twice in bold, colour and extra-large font, just because some administrator elsewhere wants to enforce his own preference about placement before instead of after the text). In this respect, you are very reasonable to tolerate "You can do with them what you want.".

Herman: The facts I am claiming to tell you are: The meaning and purpose of the term (full) disclosure as it applies to reviews. The relevance of information about the author. That is about it. As to not having seen both at the same time, I think it is already very unlikely to see even one of them in a review. Most go book reviewers have no conflict of interest, because the number of readers is orders of magnitudes larger than the number of writers. And most reviewers will provide no special information about themselves (beyond perhaps something like "I was 5 kyu when I read this book") because most readers have no specific expertise worth mentioning. If 1% of reviewers do disclosure, and 1% of reviewers do an about the author section, then only 0.01% of reviews will contain both (assuming these are independent variables) and you're very very unlikely to have seen it. I have also not, as far as I can recall, seen any other reviewer use a structure like "Subjective Aims' Achievement: +", but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it, does it? Also, I never said you should provide two separate additional text blocks. I specifically suggested including relevant information about the author in the introduction or the main body of the review. And in fact, in this review you write "...when I reread it in 2018, 28 years later, as a 5 dan and endgame researcher...". So your are already providing context about the author in the introduction of your review.

Robert Jasiek: Thank you for your clarifications. - I am more interested in future reviews, for which I do not expect it to become the norm to put (much) information about myself in the review itself. More likely, such information finds its way into an About me section. My reviews on endgame books are an exception because I am so heavily involved in the book topic that this has enabled me to write the reviews at all with all their details. Therefore, I have considered it appropriate to make related remarks in the review(s) themselves. Still a review must not become an extensive account of the reviewer because he is not the main topic of a review.

Malcolm I do not think either term is very good. I suggest you call this small section "About the author".

Robert Jasiek: I have forgotten to the change that word. Author is ambiguous, but I will write "About the reviewer".

Malcolm "About the reviewer" seems fine to me.

The Endgame - the book / Review by Robert Jasiek - discussion last edited by Malcolm on February 19, 2019 - 12:02
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